Letterkenny Memories

Hey everyone. Here is a poem about what the summer really meant in 1970’s

Letterkenny Memories

For six weeks every summer
I was jealous of the lads in the next close
whilst I was stuck with day trips
to the coast
or the hell of enforced family trips to Manchester
they were bonding away from their parents
going on a real holiday to Donegal
creating Letterkenny memories
framed forever in family albums of the mind.

There absence had more impact on my elder brother
not that I didn’t miss them but he was never sociable
despite supporting different sides of old firm
they were his only friends
not that he would see them as such
his prejudice worn like hand me downs
from an early age

This was particularly true in July
when the marching season divided a city
In to them and us
Catholics were definitely them
according to my mother
this despite the fact she married one
Orange was never my colour
I preferred to support Celtic
well I had to make a choice

Neutrality was never an option
in a Scotland still defined
by the old ways
this would change gradually over time in the 70’s dividing lines remained strong
this was a time when people believed in stereotypes
accepted them without question
as part of our cultural identity
some of the programmes
we watched on the telly
would never pass the censor

In today’s climate of political correctness
and the respect agenda
they wouldn’t even be written
but in the little minded Britain of there day
Benny Hill and the Dick Emery show
were considered family viewing
and the mocking of other cultures
never given a thought
the Irish Welsh and Scots
targets of racial abuse
disguised by the London Media
as light hearted banter

We’ve changed since the days
folk knew what you were or so they thought
by the songs you chose to sing or perhaps the ones you deemed not fit to pass your lips
Green and White or Orange and Blue
the Glasgow rainbow had a limited choice of colours
but bigots were balanced by chips on both shoulders

England was force fed down young Protestant throats
as a friend against the Irish
cultural ignorance according to my Gran
not the Catholic one
but my mother’s own mammy
my wee rebel granny
a woman with a mind of her own

Unafraid of anyone
she would say what she thought and to hell with the consequences
one day our country will come to its senses
there will never be anything great about Britain
on making this claim she told me why
she was ashamed of empire
it was slavery by any other name
she was ahead of her time
a woman of intelligence and vision

She said socialism would never happen in Britain
the English are too fond o there lords and ladies
to allow it a chance she would claim
it a shame but they love all that upstairs downstairs nonsense
John McLean was the man to lead Scotland
and they put him in prison
but allowed black shirts to shake hands with enemy
Not Germany just Hitler and the Nazis

I always regretted the fact
that Blackpool seemed to be the height of ambition for the holiday season
pardon me if I’m guilty of treason but you can’t taint memories
in which you were mocked by your so-called cousins
for not being English
British Identity never existed
bar in the narrow minds of Scottish Presbyteryian unionist bigots

Now genuine English friends give me a different angle
on what shaped them and there beliefs
Quakers C of E & Atheists
All have individual England’s
depending on backgrounds and place of birth
Just as my Scotland is unique to me
Viewing it as I do with all the faults and flaws
I know it to have well every nation does
when we admit to them we find the road to freedom

As for the lads in the next close
they would always come back with stories to share
not that my brother was interested
in there summer adventures
in his world there would be no surrender
to those he called tarriers
Invisible barriers and walls meant he was content with his hate

It is sad to say but every day
the Rangers / Celtic battles consumed him
I would listen to the lads and their stories
dates & false glories were never my scene
I preferred to dream of the day
I would be allowed to go to concerts
and get crushed in the crowds
scream proud that I had seen my hero
but it was no surprise to me that before too long
they had drifted apart.
he always did value a sash
that his father never wore above friends
and their Letterkenny Memories

@ Gayle Smith 2012


2 thoughts on “Letterkenny Memories

  1. “A sash that his father never wore” – a biting comment on those who look for identity anywhere but in their own back yard. Better Orange than Scots, better Irish diaspora than Scots, better British than Scots. What the Hell is wrong with being Scots, Old or New, together and making a decent society here?

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